Saturday, December 6, 2014

Anonymous Gifts


After focusing on gratitude for the month of November, I found it quite fitting to focus on generosity as we enter the Christmas season. So, the first quote of the week was the quote shown above. In one of my classes, the reading selection was an article about the "Cool Clothes Closet" in South Florida where teens in need can obtain fashionable clothes for free (here's the article in case you're interested).  It was a great lesson for the ESL class.  After reading the article, I also gave them a blog prompt about anonymous gifts.  I asked the class to write about a time when someone gave them a gift but they had no idea who the giver was. They were to share what they received, when it happened, where they were living at the time and most importantly, how it made them feel. They shared some fabulous stories ranging from gifts received through a parent's customer to lunch money left on a day she thought she would go hungry to anonymous Christmas gifts. We also had some interesting discussions about giving anonymously as well. One of them wrote a lovely post about how he and a group of friends once left a donation at the door of an orphanage. It tied in beautifully with the quote for the week and I could tell each of them were emotionally impacted not so much by the article but by the discussion and blogging.  I was very touched myself and it made me realize that when I give I usually expect something in return even if just a "thank you".  I began to think about my own giving practices.  I've always thought of myself as somewhat generous and my husband and I have tried to instill that in our children.  However, I really couldn't remember the last time I gave completely anonymously, expecting nothing in return.  Sure, I give to organizations that help those less fortunate and while I am anonymous to those that benefit from those causes, I do receive a tax-deduction. I started feeling a bit selfish, thinking that I only give expecting something in return.   

Then I thought of the generosity of teachers. From school supplies to anonymous donations for students in need.  And what about all those intangibles - our time and effort. Many folks believe that teachers have a cush job. We work 7:00-2:30 and have summers off.  Quite the fictional statement.  I don't know of a single teacher at my schools whose work ends at 2:30.  Some may leave the building at 2:30, but the work continues at home.  And summers are neither a vacation nor are they paid.  We receive stipends for some of the work, but not most. The majority of teachers give so much of themselves and while it's not exactly volunteer work, there's lots we are not compensated for.

So, if real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out, then teachers are some of the most generous people on this planet.  While the impact of those small (or great) acts of kindness may never be known, we certainly don't labor in vain.  Keep at it my fellow educators, the best is yet to come!

#BestYearEver

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